One energy saving scheme is shifting to a tankless gas hot water system. Any energy-saving scheme requires a good understanding of the concept of residential energy consumption by end use. But what is this so-called residential energy consumption by end use?
The yearly electricity prices of Australian households are skyrocketing. Over the last decade, prices have risen on average, 90% for consumers. The average household energy consumption in Australia currently ranges between $600 to $1000 per quarter, which is a sizeable expense to any household budget. As a result, more than ever we see households on the lookout for any energy-saving schemes that can elevate the stress of their power bills.
Understanding the Residential Energy Consumption by End Use:
Residential energy consumption by end use refers to how the total energy is divided or rationed across various end uses in your home. If you will look at the average energy consumption of household based on end usage, you will be surprised that the number one end-user of energy in your home is your home heating system. This system includes your space heating system and your HVAC. This home heating system basically consumes around 32% of your household energy supply. This is generally not a problem for Brisbane households as heating through the winter is generally low, but it is still the highest offender nationally when it comes to power consumption.
Not far behind in energy consumption is your hot water system or water heating system which is the second highest energy user in your household. Almost 14% of your household energy usage goes to the operation of your water heating system (according to U.S. Energy Information Administration). Hence, any effective energy-saving scheme will never be holistic without taking into consideration the water heating system.
You can readily decrease your energy consumption if your water heating system is energy efficient. Yet, most residential water heating systems are still inefficient. In fact, almost 68% of households in Australia still use the old, out dated, clunking tank-type water heaters. These old hot water heaters consume large amounts of energy and cost any Brisbane household a fortune to continuously run. Upgrading to a tankless gas hot water system with a more efficient water heating system ends up costing less over a short period of time.
Problems Associated with the Use of Tank-type Water Heater
Tank-type (storage type) water heating systems have been around for almost a century. Although they were state of the art technology one hundred years ago, then are far from the perfect and ideal type of water heating system nowadays. Unfortunately, old technology means old and numerous problems and disadvantages. These problems and disadvantages of tank style hot water systems include the following:
1. Offer a limited capacity and limited duration of supply:
The dynamics of how a tank style hot water system heats water is very simplistic. Initially, the water comes into the tank unit from the bottom. As hot water is drawn from the tank, cold water immediately fills up the empty space in the tank. This cold water cools down the existing hot water in the tank by diluting its heat. As more hot water is drawn from the unit, the water temperature will continue to drop. This means you need to wait for the water in the tank to heat up again before you can get readily available hot water. As a result, I’m sure you have all experienced the dreaded luke warm or every freezing cold shower as a result of a few family members being ahead of you in the shower queue.
2. Inordinate heat loss:
Tank style hot water systems continuously radiate heat. This means the hot water inside the tank continuously loses heat (standby heat loss) and needs constant reheating. This continuous thermal loss and reheating add up to large energy consumption. Minimising any standby heat loss can reduce your household energy consumption by as much as 25%.
3. Less efficiency over time and bulky:
The efficiency of a tank style hot water heater understandably diminishes over time. This is obvious, especially, if you live in areas like Brisbane where the water that goes into your household is hard water. With hundreds of complaints by residents to the Brisbane City Council and Redlands City Council every year about water quality, as Brisbane plumbers, we see the evidence of what hard water does to household pipes, plumbing, and appliances first hand. Hard water basically contains lots of minerals and debris that continually encrust the heating elements of the tank style hot water systems and many other plumbing components. Once these heating elements are encrusted by minerals, the heat transfer of the heating elements radically diminishes. In addition, tank-style hot water systems are bulky and take a lot of space within your household. As more and more houses are built in Brisbane, blocks get smaller and efficient use of space is critical to every homeowner. The last thing a new small house need is an ugly hot water system taking up most of the space in their laundry.
3. Indoor Flooding and Water Damage:
A typical Brisbane family of four needs a hot water tank with a holding capacity of around 220 liters. There is always a potential danger of a tank style hot water system rusting out, or cracking over time and leaking water or flooding. Just imagine how much serious damage it could cause if it springs a leak inside your home. As the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”.
With all of the above listened disadvantages associated with using a tank style hot water system, it is obvious why upgrading your old water hot water system to a tankless gas system is the wise thing to do.
How to Save by Upgrading Your Old Water Heating System.
Before you shop around for a new hot water system, it is always good to know exactly what the advantages are of upgrading. We have outlined the disadvantages above, and here is a list of the reason to upgrade from your old bulky hot water system to a new gas model:
1. Save on your household energy consumption.
Tankless water heaters are powered by either gas or electricity. Gas powered tankless hot water systems save you around $108 on your energy expenses quarterly. With the electric tankless hot water heaters, you will save around $44 quarterly. Moreover, the input energy efficiency of the gas-fired and electricity-powered heater are 56% and 88% respectively more efficient that an old style hot water system (DOE 2010).
A tankless water heater is made possible by technological advancements. It is equipped with a powerful sensor that ready senses the water flow and activates the heater when the water flow reaches its minimum activation rate. So, it only functions when hot water is needed.
With the tank-type water heater, however, the water heating unit keeps on grinding even if you are away from your home. It is also frequently on a standby mode. But it is still consuming energy even if it is on a standby mode, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Including while you are at work and asleep.
2. Gas Hot Water System Maintenance.
A gas hot water system needs to be flushed once every 12 to 18 months depending on the hardness of water, water quality from your water source, and the frequency of usage of the unit. You simply need several minutes or maybe an hour to descale the tankless heating system. By shutting off the water valves, the unit can easily be descaled.
You can use 3 liters of undiluted white vinegar together with water to cleanse the system of debris and scales. Moreover, you need a hose set and a sump pump to pump the diluted white vinegar solutions into the tankless water system.
3. Unlimited Hot Water.
In our experience, without doubt, this is one of the biggest selling points for gas hot water systems in Brisbane. The peace of mind of knowing you are always going to have hot water every time you turn on the shower. Many households that are equipped with tankless water heaters do not use their tankless water heaters all throughout the day. Their gas hot water heaters are only active up to two hours daily on average. Tank style water heaters on the other hand, need to be on a standby mode throughout the day which means they are still working even if they are on standby mode. Thus, tank-style hot water heaters are subject more to wear and tear.
The storage of water in the tank-type also causes water sediments to settle in and accumulate at the bottom of the tank over time. These sediments usually come in-between the heating elements and the water to be heated. The accumulation of these sediments decreases the longevity and efficiency of the tank.
Unlike tank-style hot water systems, there is no need to store water with a tankless hot water system. Not storing the water means there is no way for sediments to accumulate inside the unit. A tankless water heater is an on-demand hot water system and only activates when there is a need for hot water. Hence, it is not subject to wear and tear.
Lastly, a tankless hot water system can last up to 20 to 25 years if well-maintained.
Is Moving to Tankless Hot Water System a Wise Decision?
A tank style water heater has proven itself to be a useful invention in the past. But as mentioned above, they are now very outdated, and most people don’t realize they cost more money by not upgrading to a new style tankless hot water system. Old tank style how water systems are fraught with disadvantages and it consumes a stack of household energy. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, are a product of modern technological advancements. They are highly efficient and can help you save on your energy consumption. They are also durable and last longer than the tank style units. Thus, shifting to its use does make sense!
One caveat, however, that you should keep in mind if you are thinking of upgrading to a tankless water system is in regard to sizing. You should know which size of tankless hot water system best suits the size of your household. Purchasing an undersized hot water system will be regretful. Before buying, always consult with a licensed plumber. They will have the right advice and know exactly what size system your household needs and know all the best hot water and solar brands.